What are internet lottery scams and what should I do if I become the subject of one?

Internet Lottery Scams

Most people will have received an email stating that they have won some form of money due to an internet lottery and all that they have to do to claim their prize is to reply to the email and provide certain details enabling the sum of money to be paid to them. In every case this is a scam and you should not provide your details. You should only expect to win money or other prizes through an official competition which you have actually entered yourself.

How does an internet lottery scam work?

The first thing which will set in motion an internet lottery scam is an unsolicited email will appear in your email inbox. The subject of this email will be stating that you have in fact won a major prize in an international lottery.  The below information will be important to you if you wish to spot an internet lottery scam operating in this manner, however, you should never respond to any such scam.

How do they claim that I have been entered into a lottery of which I was not aware?

The claim will be made that your email address was collected online and attached to a random number that was subsequently entered into a draw for the lottery. This is not the case; whenever you receive an email such as this you should immediately delete it from your inbox.

What will be the next process in the scam?

The scam will state that in order for you to collect your prize you must contact the “official agent” who is in charge of your case. Often you will be advised to keep the win confidential for supposed security reasons.

The first process of the scam is just a random exercise on the part of the scammers to see which individuals will respond to the initial email. If an individual responds in any way to this email the scammers will send further messages and in some cases get in contact with you by telephone in an attempt to suck you further into the scam. 

It is important to note if you receive an email such as this or a similar email then you should make no attempt to respond in any way to the email.

What details will they ask me to provide?

Often you will be asked to provide bank details, personal information and in some cases copies of your passport and driving licence.

Why do the scammers request this information?

The scammers claim to be requesting this kind of personal information in order to prove your identity and ensure the transfer of the money to you. However, this is not the real reason. If they have all of this information regarding an individual this will be enough information to steal that individual’s identity.

You must ensure that you never give this information if requested through an email in this manner.

Will the scammers request anything else from me?

It is often the case that the scammers will also request some form of advance fee which they claim is intended to cover administration costs. If an individual does in fact make these payments the scammers will usually continue to keep making demands for payments which are intended to cover unexpected expenses. These requests will often continue until the victim becomes aware of what is happening of has run out of money.

Are there any alternatives to this scam which I should be aware of?

In certain cases the scammers will provide the victim with the option of opening an account at a particular bank as an alternative to paying upfront fees. This may make the scam feel more genuine and real however, it is important to note that this is simply another tactic used by the scammers.

In all cases the bank will be completely bogus and will often insist of an initial deposit of around a £1,000 as a condition of opening the account. Often the bank will have a legitimate looking website to make the scam feel real – you must ensure that you are not fooled by this.

Variations to the same scam

Often the details of the scam will vary in relation to the name of the lottery itself and the country of origin and particulars of how the scam will work.  In order to stay clear of the potential for identity theft you must ensure that you do not respond to any of the initial emails designed to draw you in.

What should I do if I receive such an email?

If you receive such an email into your inbox it is advisable to delete it straight away without responding in any way to the email. Even if you feel you know it is a scam and respond to tell them this you will be straight on their radar and will be the subject of much more attention regarding this and various other scams.

If you wish to report the scam you can provide details to any of the internet watchdog bodies.

What should I do if I have already provided my personal details to such lottery scammers?

If you have supplied banking details, personal information and copies of your documentation then it is likely that you may become the victim of identity theft. If you believe this to be the case for details on how you should proceed you should contact the Information Commissioner and also the police to report the scam.

What should I do if I have already given money to an internet lottery scam?

If you have already given money to an internet lottery scam there is unfortunately unlikely to be anything you can do to get your money back. However, you should get in contact with both the police to report the scam and the Information Commissioner with how to respond in relation to identity theft.